Teachers strike amid allegations of bullying at Sunderland school
Teachers at a Sunderland school have taken to the picket line amid allegations of bullying at their academy.
Members of the NASUWT held their first of six days of strike action at Washington Academy this morning.
The union says the action follows months of negotiations over the way staff are treated and the policy for dealing with poor student behaviour.
They said the management have failed to take part in meaningful negotiations and the action has not been taken lightly.
However, principal at the Spout Lane secondary, Mike Beverley, said he is disheartened that the strike action has been taken and said he has had lots of meetings with staff.
John Hall, national executive member for the teaching union, was on the picket line this morning with staff from the school and says there are concerns about the way people are being treated by the senior leaders.
He said: "We have been in discussions with the school since November 2017 trying to deal with a number of concerns that the members of staff have with adverse management practices, which have been likened to bullying, as well as concerns over the policy of dealing with pupil behaviour. There are also some workload issues.
"We have been trying to resolve these without any success."
He said members want to be in work, but feel they have no choice but to take this action.
Mr Hall said: "The main issue is that staff have the right to turn up to work and be treated with dignity and respect and unfortunately, on a daily basis, our members say that isn't happening."
The union official said there there have been incidents of staff being verbally and even physically abused by pupils, but admitted this situation appears to be improving.
He said: "It is to do with how human beings treat each other and that is the bottom line."
Mr Beverley, said: "We have engaged with the union quite a lot. We have had numerous meetings with them."
The principal said there have been significant improvements made and following a recent inspection, Ofsted did not find any issues with pupil behaviour.
He added: "We want the culture to be right in the school and will continue to work with staff and the unions."
A meeting with all parties is due to take place on Monday.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “NASUWT members are dedicated and committed teachers who care about the pupils they teach. Taking strike action is the last thing they want to do, but they have been left with no choice.
"Their deep concerns over pupil indiscipline and excessive workload remain unresolved.
"Employers have a legal duty of care for their employees. They should ensure that their health and well-being are safeguarded and they are treated with professional respect and dignity in the workplace. This is not happening.”
Despite the industrial action, the school opened to Year 7 and Year 10 pupils.